The Hawaii Nurses’ Union submitted another proposal to Wahiawa General Hospital (WGH) management at 9:30 PM and it was rejected at 10 p.m. While the nurses have made it clear that they are willing to continue talks and were indeed “prepared to stay as long as necessary tonight,” as of this latest action no further talks are scheduled.

The nurses are set to strike on Monday, May 5, 2003. Nurses from WGH and representatives from the hospital’s management had been meeting since 9 a.m. with a Federal Mediator at the Hawaii Employers Council.

After submitting their proposal at 9:30 PM, Primary Nurse Negotiator, Ms. Randy Pisani had said, “We are working very hard to negotiate a contract that will be ratified by our membership. We are deeply saddened and angered by the proposals the hospital has presented to this point.”

Cindy Guerin, the other Nurse Negotiator noted, “We recognize that many of the hospitals proposals will not retain RNs or attract any new nurses, but to avert a strike we are making many concessions that will create a minimally acceptable agreement.

We can only hope that these sacrifices will enable the hospital to continue to serve the community. Now it is up to the hospital to demonstrate that they care about the community and their employees, nurses and others who would be affected by a strike.” Unfortunately, this did not happen.

In a very unusual move, on April 8, 2003, the Wahiawa staff physicians through the hospital’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Manuel Abundo, Jr. signed a letter to the Hospital’s administration saying, “The Members of the Medical Executive Committee and medical staff at WGH are supporting the nurses at their upcoming negotiations.”

The staff physicians also recognized the need to keep their experienced RNs at the only medical facility that provides full service hospital care to the rural community. All items being requested by the RNs are well within the competitive packages now being provided by other area hospitals and health care facilities.

Sue Scheider, Director of the Collective Bargaining Organization of the Hawaii Nurses’ Association and Chief Negotiator for the Union in these negotiations had earlier noted, “The RNs at Wahiawa General have, for some time, been openly questioning the administration’s loyalty to the rural community and management’s adherence to the hospital’s mission.

They have questioned the wisdom of the dramatically curtailed maintenance on the existing hospital facility — while millions of dollars are being pumped into hyping the administration’s much-publicized effort to build a bigger new hospital at Koa Ridge. The Wahiawa RNs have to wonder how a hospital that is driving its nurses to either leave to work at competing hospitals in town or to strike can hope to win the support of the community it seems prepared to abandon without adequate health care.”

This was the first meeting since the nurses overwhelmingly rejected management’s “Best and Final Offer” on Sunday, April 13, 2003, and served a 20 day advance notice of their intent to strike the hospital. Sixty-five RNs are represented by HNA at WGH.

”’See related story:”’ “Wahiawa General Hospital Nurses to Resume Mediation”

”’Scott Foster is the communications representative for the nurses’ union. He can be reached via email at:”’ mailto:fosters005@hawaii.rr.com

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